Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Last night I had a dream about shopping for weatbix, and was sorely disappointed when I woke up and realized I'm probably not going to be able to eat those weatbix for another year. But realizing just how important something like weatbix is prompted me to go through a list of things in my head which I do and don't miss about Australia. I really miss hanging out on Friday and Saturday nights with my friends and playing games of risk and Starcraft. I also miss being able to go somewhere where there isn't anyone else and just being alone. And while being able to communicate with people in everyday life was awesome in Australia, talking to people about anything other than the fact I'm an Australian on a working holiday visa wasn't at the top of the list. It was on the list for sure, but its a bit more complicated an item than the others.

The way I spend time with people here is different to Australia. In Japan, most of the time I spend with people is just sitting around a table eating or laughing. I don't necessarily understand what I'm laughing about, but just because I don't understand it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Sometimes I have the odd short conversation about the guy dressed as a girl who just walked into one of two gay clubs next door, or sometimes I'll have some fun telling people that we usually eat with a knife and fork in Australia (usually followed by shocked looks), but I barely ever talk about the kinds of things I would have talked about back home. I just don't know how to talk about electronics here, or religion, or current events. And when people talk about those sorts of things, I don't understand them. At all.

The huge difference between my friends in Australia and my friends here is that in Australia, the people I hung out with were mostly people I could share opinions with. But in Japan, I don't know enough about the Japanese language to tell people that I think spending money at the temple to buy a blessing is a scam. And since I don't even know the word for government, good luck trying to tell me that the current government is horrible. Apart from the fact that I don't really know enough people to choose my friends anyway, it means that the people I hang out with in Japan aren't all people who I can talk about things with. It means that when I'm with people, I spend a lot less time arguing, and a lot more time just sitting there and trying to enjoy whatever they are enjoying. But the fact is that I thrive on discussing opinions with people, and not everyone enjoys Shisha.

I do wonder if being able to listen to my Japanese friends talk about their interests would allow me to enjoy what they're doing more, and because of it I'm studying my ass off to learn the language. But at the same time, I wonder just what exactly the language that I'm learning will buy me in terms of friendships. If all it allows me to do is understand that just like in Australia, everybody is talking about their favorite sports team or stupid politics, is it really going to add that much more to friendships than just quietly sitting there? And if I was actually able to find people to play starcraft or boardgames with here, would not understanding them really make them any worse friends than my mates in Australia? Sure, the language would make it easier to find those people, but only just.

I know in Australia my best friends were the ones I could talk about things with, like God or my crazy ideas about the world. But I also really enjoyed just hanging out with mates as well. Wikipedia says that some researchers put the level of body language compared to that of spoken language as high as 80%, and I guess this just means even more that being able to enjoy doing stuff together with the people you hang around with is more important than understanding what they are saying. Really, I just wish the people here enjoyed playing boardgames.


  1. Dude!!!
    Jack Zhu here, How's going?
    I totally understand, when I first came to Australia, Most of the time, I would just sit and listen, But don't worry, in a few weeks you will see the differeance. Have you got a job yet?

  2. Hey just had a thought, see if you can drop-in at any of the universities near you. I'm sure they would have a board-game society / etc - just depends on if you can come in as a random.

  3. By the way, it is spelled "Weetbix" as opposed to "Weatbix" :P